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Apr 27, 2008

Are you a Googler, Yahoo, or Live-r? Branding Lessons By Battelle and Others

Are you a Googler, Yahoo, or Live-r?  

When I buy advertising with the WSJ, Vogue, NYT, or Sunset magazine, a clear demographic is implied by the premium brand. The halo effect is positive on my brand.

Every US adult and teen touches the services of Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft - every month. There is no brand halo effect. Do users identify themselves with the portal brands? Are they a fan or just an anonymous user? Portals have a problem.

Portals have become the new mass media - as unbranded as the US Postal Office. They are simply  cheaper and more efficient;-)

Are Blogs Premium Brands

What about blogs? Techcrunch reaches millions per month. When I discussed with my brother-in-law, he asked, "what is Techcrunch?" Silicon Alley Insider is Henry Bloget, not SAI. Same branding problem exists for Glam. The many top 100 lists for blogs are filled with unrecognized names. None of their virtual readers are easily characterized. Who are they? 

In contrast, my brother-in-law knows Computerworld, Infoworld, PC World, PC Magazine, and Motorbike Today and has a clear sense of their audience. Legacy publishers have a branding advantage and blogs have a problem. 

Maybe it's time for Techcrunch or Federated Media to BUY advertising to build brand recognition.

March 16, 2008 8:46 PM

What's This Fascination with Ad Networks? (Or, the Online Media Business Will Be About Brands First, Technology Second)
Back a year ago, I wrote a three part series on the future of the media business. It began as an attempt to think out loud about a topic with which I had become obsessed, and it ended up becoming a manifesto of sorts aboutconversational media and marketing.

The Rise of Independent Media Brands Online

And I have to tell you, neither the publishers nor the brand marketers believe that a magical ad platform will somehow address their needs online. Sure, brand marketers will spend 5-15% of their budget on lower-CPM "pray and spray" DR and awareness campaigns. And sure, publishers are happy - thrilled! - to see algorithms drive up their backfill or remnant inventory CPMs. But none of them believe that ad networks provide the same kind of engagement and brand building opportunities that a simple two-page spread or 30-second spot does in the offline world.

So what *are* their needs? To address that, we need to step back, and think about media brands and marketing brands, and why there's such a symbiotic relationship between the two. Clearly, brands have built what I've called "packaged goods media." And in the past few years, I've come to the same conclusion about online media. In short, I think brands will also build the next batch of great online media companies. And up until recently, I thought Yahoo, AOL, and MSN were best positioned to be those companies. Now, I'm not so sure...

So Where Are We Today?

As has been reported widely, more than 80 percent of the advertising inventory on the Web today is sold for less than a $1 CPM. Compare that to the average sold CPM in the magazine business or on television - reports vary, but it's anywhere from six to 40 times higher. That delta, to my mind, has everything to do with engagement.

Or put another way, why is it that a brand marketer looking to reach college educated women, 18-34, is willing to pay $40 CPMs in Vanity Fair, but just $3 in an ad network?

The first and most important reason is engagement - the reader of Vanity Fair is engaged in the magazine, and when she comes across that Lancome ad, the chances that the "between the ears magic" will occur is far greater than at a random site run by an ad network. The second and related reason is creative - a two-page spread is simply a far more effective media vehicle for the brand's message than the IAB unit.

So how do we solve for these two problems on the web?

Well, with Conversational Media, I believe the Web already begun to solve for the first issue. ..

But to do so, we need to solve the second issue - which is creative. And that's where I think conversational marketing comes in.

In my third post in this three part series (yes, this is the end of the second, congratulations, you made it!), ...

The "Hidden Return" Of Online Advertising

We all know that online advertising benefits from being measurable and that it's returns are often better than offline advertising. But the one thing we have not been able to measure is the offline impact of online advertising. I have frequently cited a comscore study from years ago that showed that >80% of transactions initiated with online search were transacted offline.

Now we have a new study from comscore, which is outlined in the Harvard Business Review. It's even better than that.

A recent study we conducted for a retailer with more than $15 billion in annual revenues—the vast majority of which come from its physical stores—had notable results. Over a three-month period, U.S. sales increased by 40% online and by 50% off-line among people exposed to an online search- and display-ad holiday campaign promoting the entire company. Because its baseline sales volumes are greater in physical stores than on the internet, this retailer derived a great deal more revenue benefit off-line than the percentages suggest. Even in terms of raw increases, though, online ads had a bigger impact on off-line than on online sales in a majority of our studies.

So when you buy advertising online that is generating a positive ROI just based on online conversion, you are likely to be getting an even better ROI that you think you are. It would be great to have some kind of closed loop tracking of the offline purchase activity. Maybe with mobile payments, we can get there.

Look Who's Buying "Brand Advertising" Keyword!

What do you know about that. Brand Advertising on Google:

Brand Ads On Google

It's Google, the master of direct response, neck in neck with Facebook. Innaresting. Thanks, Shank-mon!

The New Yahoo: Sticky, Viral, And Most Of All, Friendly

Yahoo’s CTO Ari Balogh and Chief Architect (Platforms) Neal Sample filled in a few more details today around their new Yahoo Open Strategy (called YOS internally).


Yahoo wants to turn itself into one big social network-driven site, and simultaneously open many of its core services to get users and developers thinking of Yahoo as their Internet hub. They’ve been talking about parts of this since last November. First were details about how webmail will serve as the social networking hub, followed by more tidbits in January. In March they joined the Google-led Open Social initiative. And they’ve made a series of announcements around Search Monkey which will allow third parties to enhance Yahoo search with structured data.

Yahoo Open Strategy

Yahoo mashes the social stuff and the open stuff under the same banner of YOS. There are three components to the additional news announced today - platformization, opening services, and portability. It’s important to note that nothing has launched, and there’s no public timetable for the launch of any particular part of YOS. Sample said in a briefing today that the pieces will be released over the coming months...

Google wants to turn your home page into your social network

Social networks like Facebook and MySpace are often just one click of a bookmark away on users’ web browsers. Google looks to be one-upping them by turning its personalized home page, iGoogle, into a social network of sorts.

With the new developer sandbox for iGoogle, Google is offering hints of what could be a very grand scheme. The video Google has released (embedded below) is front-loaded with what seems to be routine updates for what developers can do with iGoogle. However, towards the end we’re hit with code for accessing friends’ data and yes, creating an all important (in this day and age of social networks), friends’ activity stream.

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